Monkeying Around

Guatemalan Black Howler Monkey, Belize

Monkeys  and humans are both primates — I think that’s why humans find monkeys so entertaining to watch. There are 260 species of monkeys currently living in the world, here are a few monkey species I have seen in the wild.


Wikipedia Monkey


Monkeys are generally divided into two major types: Old World and New World.


The Old World monkeys photographed here were seen in different parts of Africa. They are also found in Asia.

Olive Baboon, Tanzania

Baboons are one of the easier Old World monkeys to spot not only because of their larger size, but also because they travel in large troops. There were many instances when the safari vehicle rounded a corner to find a troop of 50 or 100 baboons walking their daily route.

Olive Baboon, Tanzania, Africa

Monkeys grooming one another is a frequent occurrence; it is one of my favorite monkey observations. Known as social grooming, it is done for health benefits as well as relationship bonding.

Savannah Baboons grooming, Botswana


Typical of monkeys, the vervet monkeys have extensive hierarchies and elaborate social behavior.

Vervet Monkey, Botswana

Vervets have been known to express 30 different alarm calls. They can readily be observed vocalizing warnings to their peers when a predator is nearby. Vervets take this vocalization to a higher level of intelligence by specifically saying which of their four predators is lurking.


Our guides could tell us what predator we were about to see based on the different vocalizations they recognized in the vervet monkeys’ alarm calls.


Native to Africa, black-and-white colobus monkeys are strikingly beautiful to see dancing among the treetops.

Colobus Monkey, Mt. Kenya, Africa

Blue monkeys, though they’re not really blue, mostly eat fruit and can be found in Central and East Africa.

Blue Monkey, Lake Manyara, Tanzania, Africa


Now let’s head to the Western Hemisphere. New World monkeys, found in Central and South America, include the capuchin and howler monkeys.


There are approximately ten different kinds of capuchin monkeys, sporting many different colors. They are considered the most intelligent of the New World monkeys. Energetic and lithe, they have been used as service animals to assist people challenged with spinal injuries.

Brown Capuchin Monkeys, Peru


Known for their eerie, howling calls, howler monkeys are considered to be the loudest land animal. It is one of my favorite sounds in the rainforest…except for my first time when I thought I was going to die.

Red Howler Monkeys, Peru

Here’s a You Tube video with a good howler recording. Click here. 

Red howler Monkeys, Manu, Peru. Photo by Bill Page


It is an expansive family of interesting beings, our fellow primates, the monkeys.


Written by Jet Eliot.

Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified.

Blue Monkey, Mt. Kenya, Kenya, Africa


Curious George.png

Curious George


70 thoughts on “Monkeying Around

    • We did not see many colobus monkeys, but when we did, they stopped us in our tracks with their elegant beauty. They travel very high up in the canopy and are quick. Thanks for your visit and comment today, Dina. We’ve got monkeys on the mind.

  1. Ever since a small gibbon kicked me in the head as it leapt past me, on the island of Gibraltar, I’ve been wary of monkeys, Jet. 🙂 🙂 I know! I know! I shouldn’t have been in the way.

    • I always enjoy hearing about your walks and adventures, Jo, and this one is a doozy. Kicked in the head by a gibbon on Gibraltar…not too many people can say this. I always enjoy your visits, thank you.

  2. Monkeys are fascinating and from what I read can be quite mischievous, boldly thieving food from houses, particularly in Asia. I remember as a teenager visiting a small zoo where they had gibbons, resplendent in black and white. My friend handed one a banana, which it took to its perch, opened it, broke it in half and gave the other half to its partner. That selflessness astonished me and left quite an impression.

    • Super story, Eliza. I have never seen this level of selflessness in the wild, so I enjoyed hearing you witness it. Wild is different than zoo, but the gesture is a memorable one. Thanks so much.

  3. Monkeys are interesting and smart animals. I have the habit of looking at their eyes and find that little sparkle that shows intelligence. Gorillas have it and even show as if they are thinking. We humans have it and we can actually read emotions or behavior. Great post my friend, I had my big quota of monkeys in the Amazon savannah. 🙂

    • Interesting to hear about your Amazon monkey experiences, HJ, and the habit of looking into their eyes. The eyes of a monkey are striking, so like ours, and you’re right, they have a certain knowingness. Thanks very much, my friend–

  4. If I read “monkey” or “monkeying around”in a title, then I’m in! Wonderful words and photographs, and the troop of baboons plus the howler monkey sounds helped balance the potential cuteness overload. To be in the wild and hear a howler monkey would be absolutely terrifying, even if you knew what you were hearing.
    Great post once again, informative and entertaining – thanks, Jet!

    • I was alone on a trail in the dark morning on my way to the bathroom to get ready for the day, and those howlers started up and oh man, I thought I was dead. haha. Glad you enjoyed the monkeys, pc, such a fun species. Thanks for your visit and wonderful comment.

  5. The times we have seen monkeys in the wild it has always been a mesmerising experience. Well perhaps not meeting baboons while on bicycles. In South Africa that can be a challenge. I seemed to be able to pedal quite quickly with a baboon in potential pursuit. The photo collection of your encounters has me smiling ear to ear. A treasure trove of monkeying around memories.

    • I laughed out loud at the thought of bicycling with baboons, Sue. My goodness, that would be quite a challenge, and I am sure you surprised yourself at how FAST you could pedal. Great, as always, to hear from you.

  6. Lovely! I am never prepared to hear the howler monkeys. SO INTENSE!!! And I LOL at Curious George waving goodbye at the conclusion. So good to have you back, Jet!

    • I am happy to say that for your next adventure in Germany, dear Nan, you can rest easy because there are no howlers there. So happy you enjoyed the monkeys and, as always, I appreciate your visits and kind words.

  7. I just heard the sound of the Howler Monkey for the first time, thanks to this post. If I had heard it in the jungle not knowing what it was……. I imagine I would have been pretty scared!

  8. Fantastic post, Jet. You’ve done a lot of monkeying around over the years. 🙂 I found the Vervet alarms for different predators to be fascinating. I’ve seen quite a few in my travels and it’s always a thrill. Thanks for all the great photos and info.

  9. Wonderful photos and the title is a perfect reminder that I need to quit monkeying around at the zoo and read the informational boards because I had no idea I knew so little about the monkeys. Thanks for sharing the information and your encounters with them, although the howler monkey sound now may accompany all of my nightmares. I have no idea what I was expecting to hear, but it certainly was not that. Love the shot of the vervet monkey and the wonderful closing photo of Curious George. I thought during the games on Sunday how wonderful it was that you would be able to watch this great Packers/Vikings game with the new football package, but by the end stressful day, with most of my teams losing, I also thought I may need to start watching the games on my phone outdoors so I can relax a little.

    • Always a joy to hear from you, ACI. Monkeys are always a popular attraction in the zoo, and we both know why — such fascinating mammals. Glad you were able to pick up a few new facts, my friend, and what a pleasure it is to share them.

    • It is astounding how many monkey species we have on this earth. Glad you enjoyed the monkeys, Amy. And yes, it is fun to watch the monkeys grooming. Somehow it reminded me most of a mother brushing her daughter’s hair. Warm thanks–

  10. What a delightful post! I can understand why the howler monkey’s howl might have been a bit heart stopping. What fun to hear it in the wild… once you know what it is that’s making that horrific howl! As always, I truly enjoy your informative post.

    • What a pleasure it is to share the wild monkeys with you, David. In Chinese astrology I was born in the Year of the Monkey, perhaps that’s part of my ever-curious nature. Warmest thanks, my friend.

  11. I love observing monkeys…our cousins that still have the ‘wild’ in them! Some of my lasting memories from Africa year involve our son running around with vervet monkeys at the lodges were we staying at and all the close encounters with baboons we had in several countries in East Africa. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    • It really is a barrel of laughs when it comes to monkey-watching. That cliché is not without merit. Enjoyed hearing about you and your family’s experiences with the monkeys in Africa, Helen. Thanks so much.

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